Scientific article

Adverse effects of methylene blue on the central nervous system

Published inAnesthesiology, vol. 108, no. 4, p. 684-692
Publication date2008

BACKGROUND: An increasing number of clinical observations suggest adverse neurologic outcome after methylene blue (MB) infusion in the setting of parathyroid surgery. Hence, the aim of the current study was to investigate the potentially neurotoxic effects of MB using a combination of in vivo and in vitro experimental approaches. METHODS: Isoflurane-anesthetized adult rats were used to evaluate the impact of a single bolus intravascular administration of MB on systemic hemodynamic responses and on the minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) of isoflurane using the tail clamp test. In vivo, MB-induced cell death was evaluated 24 h after MB administration using Fluoro-Jade B staining and activated caspase-3 immunohistochemistry. In vitro, neurotoxic effects of MB were examined in hippocampal slice cultures by measuring excitatory field potentials as well as propidium iodide incorporation after MB exposure. The impact of MB on dendritic arbor was evaluated in differentiated single cell neuronal cultures. RESULTS: Bolus injections of MB significantly reduced isoflurane MAC and initiated widespread neuronal apoptosis. Electrophysiologic recordings in hippocampal slices revealed a rapid suppression of evoked excitatory field potentials by MB, and this was associated with a dose-dependent effect of this drug on cell death. Dose-response experiments in single cell neuronal cultures revealed that a 2-h-long exposure to MB at non-cell-death-inducing concentrations could still induce significant retraction of dendritic arbor. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that MB exerts neurotoxic effects on the central nervous system and raise questions regarding the safety of using this drug at high doses during parathyroid gland surgery.

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Apoptosis/drug effects/physiology
  • Blood Pressure/drug effects/physiology
  • Central Nervous System/drug effects/pathology/physiology
  • Heart Rate/drug effects/physiology
  • Hippocampus/drug effects/pathology/physiology
  • Male
  • Methylene Blue/toxicity
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
Citation (ISO format)
VUTSKITS, Laszlo et al. Adverse effects of methylene blue on the central nervous system. In: Anesthesiology, 2008, vol. 108, n° 4, p. 684–692. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e3181684be4
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal0003-3022

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